Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rockfish and Asparagus

Last weekend, a bunch of trophy-sized (15 pounds and up) rockfish from the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay were landed and I got a couple of them, one 18 pounds and the other 16 pounds. While all rockfish (what the rest of the world calls Striped Bass) is delicious, I love this size fish because I can take thick, meaty pieces out of it. Pieces this thick take longer to cook, but they look better on the plate and I like the texture better.

After breaking down these beautiful fish, I brought home three pieces, one for each of us, and decided to roast it with asparagus for dinner last evening, a quick dinner that could be put on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Roasted Rockfish and Asparagus
I preheated the oven to very hot with the convection fan on and then while a large pan was heating on high flame, I prepped the asparagus, tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and put them on a sheet tray. Once my pan was very hot, I filmed it with oil, seasoned my fish and put it show-side down in the pan.

The tricks to crispy fish are simple: heavy pan, high flame, and leave it the f*ck alone. Once the fish goes in the pan, resist the urge to mess with it. Leave it be until you can see that beautiful crust forming before you flip it.

Rockfish Arrosé
I decided to go classic French in cooking this fish, basting it in butter while it was searing in the pan. Arroser is a very handy French verb meaning variously to water, to get wet, to toast/drink someone's health, to sprinkle, to drizzle, and if you are a chef, to baste. More particularly, it means to baste with the oil or butter in the pan while sautéing.

While the fish was browning on the show-side, I added several sprigs of fresh thyme and four whole cloves of garlic to the pan to start infusing in the oil. Once the fish had browned and I had flipped it, I added a bit more oil and a couple of tablespoons of butter to the pan and proceeded to baste the fish liberally while the bottom side browned.

After this, the fish went onto the sheet tray with the asparagus and I poured the butter, thyme, and garlic cloves over the top. Into the oven with the sheet tray for six minutes at which point the asparagus was perfect and the fish cooked through. I let everything rest for three minutes before serving.

First Local Mesclun of the Year
While I was cooking the fish, Ann made the salad from the first local greens of the year. This was a wonderful, simple dinner, ready for the table in under 15 minutes.

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